DP World moved court to halt adverse probe findings, says CCI
19 March 2019
Antitrust regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) has told the Mumbai High Court that the Dubai-based port operator DP World is deliberately trying to block a probe into its alleged anti-competitive practices through a court case so as to halt or delay possible adverse findings against the firm.
CCI last year ordered an investigation into suspected antitrust violations by DP World and Denmark’s AP Moller-Maersk at the terminals they operate at state-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).
DP World was quick to move the Mumbai High Court urging it to quash or put on hold CCI's investigation, saying it "would lead to gross discrimination and grave economic harm."
The court, however, has so far not halted the investigation.
The CCI told the court that DP World’s local unit had “prematurely” rushed to court to stall or delay the probe, according to a filing by the anti-trust watchdog dated 30 January, according to a Reuters report.
“The reason for (DP World’s action) is not difficult to discern. The petitioners, appear to have, pre-empted that the Director General may return with a finding against (them),” the report quoted CCI’s secretary PK Singh as stating in the agency’s filing.
The CCI probe followed a complaint by Singapore’s PSA International Pte Ltd alleging that Maersk and DP World created barriers to hinder the growth of PSA’s terminal at JNPT by colluding on certain charges they levy at the port.
CCI said DP World’s attempt to quash the antitrust probe should not be allowed as it “would encourage every enterprise against whom investigation is ordered ... to approach courts and seek similar relief.”
The CCI has since last year launched several antitrust investigations involving foreign companies, including global commodities trader Glencore as well as the business activities of beer companies such as Carlsberg and Anheuser Busch InBev.
JNPT, which handles more than half of India’s annual container traffic, is critical to India’s international trade. The port handled 66 million tonnes of cargo in the fiscal year through March 2018.